15th January 2020, which is the day of Makarasankranthi, shall witness the splendor of the grand and glorious Lakshadeepam, which is a festival of one hundred thousand lights at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple. The day denotes the culmination of the renowned 56 days Murajapam commencing on 21 November, 2019. The 56 days Murajapam is a celebration of chanting of the Manthras of the four Vedas by Veda panditas hailing from different corners of the country in 8 muras or rounds, each of which is of seven day duration. This great festival is celebrated once in every six years. No other Temple Festival in the State is celebrated in such a grandiose manner and scale involving the presence of Vedic Scholars from the length and breadth of the country.
The Murajapam combined with Lakshadeepam traces its origin back to a date more than 250 years ago. To be exact, in mid January (Makaram 1st, which is the Makarasankranthi day in 1750AD) the first Lakshadeepam was organized by Maharaja Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who conquered all the neighbouring States upto Kochi and expanded Venad into Travancore. He celebrated the Lakshadeepam after conducting a 56 day Murajapam for the firsttime with the participation of Vedic Scholars from all parts of Kerala and South India. On 3rd January 1750, he surrendered not only his crown and sword, but the entire country of Travancore at the feet of Lord Padmanabha Swamy. This act of relinquishment is known as Thrippadidanam. From that day onwards, the Supreme Ruler of Travancore is Lord Padmanabha Swamy. Marthanda Varma vowed to rule the country as the servant of Lord Padmanabha Swamy, assuming the honorific title of Padmanabha dasa.
The entire 56 days period of Murajapam witness a continuous chanting of Mantras from Vedas in 8 cycles or muras. Each cycle ends on the 8th day with a sacred procession in which the idol of the Lord is carried on the shoulders of the priests in a decorated vehicle. This sacred procession which moves through the Seevelippura is known as the Muraseeveli. The idol of Lord Padmanabha Swamy in the first Muraseeveli on the 1st day of Murajapam is carried in SIMHASANA VAHANAM; and the last and the eight on the day of Lakshadeepam on GARUDA VAHANAM.
The Puranic origins of Murajapam and Lakshadeepam goes back to the Puranic king named Karthaveerarjuna. In his desire for the well being of all and particularly his people, he sought the guidance of Atri Putra Dattatreya. Karthaveerarjuna went to Mahishmati on the banks of the Narmada and keeping the precepts of Maharshi Atri performed the Yagna known as Bhadradeepa or Murajapa ending on the 56th day with full ritual of japa. The Veda parayana and Veda Ghosha every morning was followed by the recitation of Sahasranama – the thousand names of Lord Narayana or Mahavishnu. A darshan of the Lord on the 15th January 2020 will be equal to VAIKUNTA PRIYADARSHANAM.
The Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple which is a Mahakshethra and is one of the 108 Vishnu Shrines in India, identified as Divya Deshas or Thiruppathies by the great saints, came into being at least five thousand years ago.
The splendid idol of the Lord contains 12,008 shaligram-silas brought from the Gandaki river in Nepal, and is made of a unique amalgam known as KATUSARKARA YOGAM. This mix is made of divine earth brought from the various parts of the country and a combination various ayurvedic compounds. Lord Vishnu lies on the serpent Ananta in Yoga nidra. From his navel rises Brahma and Siva is under his right hand.
The rituals performed in the Temple are detailed and in larger quantity than in other temples. There are daily three full poojas from dawn to night. Two Ulsavams (Painkuni and Aipasi), and two Kalasams are celebrated here.
Situated on seven acres in the midst of the city, the Temple, built in an intricate fusion of indigenous Kerala style and Tamil style, is an architectural Marvel. The eastern entrance is dominated by the glorious gopuram, build in traditional Dravidian architectural style. The top of the gopuram reminds the viewer of the Kerala boat or vallam.
The Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, which had been known all over the country as a Mahakshetra, shot into prominence for its treasures when it was declared by the Book of Guinness Records as the richest Hindu Temple in the world, following the opening of the hidden vaults of the temple on 27 June 2011, following an order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in SLP (C) 11295 of 2011. Of the six vaults numbered as A to F, the B Vault has not been ordered to be opened by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The valuables in the form of ornaments and artifacts in gold and precious stones have since been inventorised and kept under safe custody and special security. The Supreme Court has not ordered to evaluate the valuables. However, based on unofficial sources the Guinness Book of records has named the Temple as the world’s Richest Hindu Temple.
As part of the celebration of Murajapam – Lakshadeepam of 2020, an ambitious project to cover the Sreekovil roof Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple with gold at an estimate of Rs.9 crore has been initiated. Our aim is to complete the gold covering before the commencement of Murajapam – Lakshadeepam.
Every one of the devotees is earnestly requested to participate in the Murajapam – Lakshadeepam from beginning to end and to be a beneficiary of the blessing which can be availed of only once in six years.